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Book of the Week — Itinerary of the “Suffrage Special” April 9 – May 16, 1916

“[I]n this year of Presidential nominations and political campaigns, we announce our determination to support no party, by whatever name called, unless such party shall, in its platform, first emphatically endorse our demand for a recognition of the exact and permanent political equality of all citizens.” — Resolution enthusiastically adopted as the voice of the Convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association, Chicago, June 2, 1880

Itinerary of the “Suffrage Special” April 9 – May 16, 1916
Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage
Washington, D.C.: The Union, 1916

In April 1916, officers of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage held a conference to debate a new strategy for producing a federal suffrage amendment. An appeal was made to the four million already enfranchised women of the west, urging them to help with the effort. The Congressional Union officers proposed to organize a “Suffrage Special” — a five-week-long journey devised to mobilize western women. The Suffrage Special was made up of a private train cart carrying twenty-three women, each chosen by her state branch of the CU to go west, young woman, and organize. The delegates were all relatively wealthy — the only ones who could afford to leave home for such a long time. The Suffrage Special left Union Station in Washington, D. C., the organization’s headquarters, on April 9 — with bands playing, crowds roaring, and flowers distributed to the delegates. The group made stops in Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Utah before returning home. Each stop, in cities such as Los Angeles and Spokane, featured rallies with speakers from the delegation. Alice Paul, then National Chairman (as she was then designated) of CU said in a later interview that “It was just to spread — another way of doing something different so as to perhaps get a little publicity on it.” Paul was referring to the creation of the National Woman’s Party. The tour was deemed a success, garnering the press coverage Paul desired.



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